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Saab Forming Partnership with Chinese Automaker Hawtai Motor Group

Additional deal with Gemini Investment should help reopen Saab plant this week.

by on May.02, 2011

Saab hopes to restart its Trollhattan plant this week.

Struggling to head off a collapse, the cash-strapped Swedish carmaker Saab has lined up a pair of deals that could allow it to reopen its headquarters assembly plant later this week.

Saab’s Dutch parent company, Spyker Cars NV, plans to borrow 30 million Euros ($44.6 million) from the Gemini Investment Fund, money that apparently will be used to pay off suppliers who have been boycotting the Swedish maker for nearly a month.

“We’re hoping to restart production in the next week, however it’s dependent upon our conversation with suppliers and parts availability,” cautioned Saab’s U.S. spokeswoman Michele Tinson.

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While the Gemini deal could head off a near-term catastrophe, the longer-term news involves the aspiring Chinese automaker Hawtai Automotive Group, which plans to announce a new partnership with Saab on Tuesday during a Beijing news conference.

Sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that Vladimir Antonov, the wealthy Russian businessman who had hoped to pull off a deal of his own with Saab may yet align himself with the struggling maker as part of the latest developments.

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Saab Rescue Delayed Again

Asset sale stalled, plant still shuttered.

by on Apr.27, 2011

Image By: Len Katz

Saab Chairman Victor Muller may be looking for an alternate rescue plan to reopen the company's plant.

With a proposed rescue plan still stalled, struggling Swedish automaker Saab’s headquarters assembly plant remains shuttered for the third week, raising questions about its long-term prospects.

The European Investment Bank, which provided the loan permitting Dutch-based Spyker Cars to buy Saab last year from General Motors, has so far refused to approve a deal that would involve the sale of Saab’s factory and other assets to a Russian businessman.  A one-time Spyker partner, Vladimir Antonov would then lease those assets back to the Swedes.

That has sent Saab scrambling to line up other options, the company announced in a release that states, “Spyker and Saab Automobile continue to work on securing additional funding. To that end Spyker and Saab Automobile are negotiating equity and debt financing and/or technology licensing with various strategic partners, including various Chinese car manufacturers. No commitments have been received to date.”

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There have also been reports that Saab may turn to former owner General Motors for assistance.

The crisis was touched off, on March 29, when several suppliers demanded immediate payment of overdue bills before they would unload trucks delivering parts needed for the Trollhattan assembly line.  The suppliers briefly agreed to work with Saab but the boycott resumed a few days later.  The closure of the factory, located next to Saab’s Swedish headquarters, is now in its third week.

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Lease-Back Plan Could Be Saab’s Salvation

Swedish government must approve Russian bailout deal.

by on Apr.11, 2011

Saab's first-ever crossover, the 9-4X.

A complex deal that would sell Saab assets to a Russian businessman then lease them back to the Swedish company could help save the cash-strapped automaker.

Saab Automobile has been frantically searching for new sources of revenue in recent days as it has burned through much of the funds it raised through a loan from the European Investment Bank, or EIB, last year.  The carmaker’s main assembly plant, in Trollhattan, has been shuttered several times because suppliers have refused to deliver much needed parts citing millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

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The white knight is Vladimir Antonov, a one-time investor in Spyker Cars, the Dutch-based company that purchased Saab from General Motors in early 2010.  Antonov would provide a financial lifeline by purchasing key assets and then leasing them back to Saab.  The deal must still be authorized by the Swedish government, which backed Saab’s loan from the EIB.

Antonov was forced out of Spyker by GM, in late 2009.  The U.S. maker refused to negotiate with the Dutch company while the oligarch was one of its investors.  But Antonov stepped back in, earlier this year, when Spyker sold him its Dutch-based sports car operations.

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